The Def Guide to Zzap!64

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 Post subject: Thoughts on early CU...
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 4:57 am 
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Techno Teaboy

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So I just got my CU DVD compilation yesterday and had a quick browse.

Remember that from an American perspective, this is all very new to me. I hadn't seen CU until CU Amiga in 92/93, and magazine importing was pretty rare in the 80s.

I was struck at how much CU looked and to a certain degree read like US mag Compute at its inception (even down to some of the fonts, not to mention the inclusion of Jim Butterfield)... was surprised to see that the type-in programs didn't appear to have any sort of checksumming to them (a trick all the US mags picked up on very early and DID, in fact, make entering those damn programs sometimes sort of vaguely bearable)... and I also was a little taken aback by how poor the reporting tended to be despite the more serious bent of the magazine.

In ZZap, I guess it would be one thing to report a piece of news about a new machine launch or other significant development with no analysis more serious than "Lloyd Mangram, the fish, and Paul Sumner say it'll be ace", because you pretty much could tell how seriously it should be taken (I hope, anyway), but given that CU seemed to be aiming for more adult respectability, some of the reporting was pretty slipshod. Events as serious as machines launching, plants being shut down, and so on and so forth were given rather fannish and amateur analysis.

(and, oh yeah, the Infiltrator review really was a travesty. Excellent game.)

Not related to the quality of the magazine itself, it was also especially painful to relive through the primary sources of the day the truly terrible and aimless decisions Commodore made at its very peak, ranging from the +4/16 wastes of time to the whole sad Amiga story.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 11:52 am 
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Until the birth of ZZAP!, a lot of the British computer mags were very serious, going on about word processing, publishing pages and pages of program listings (that never seemed to work) and generally being quite boring.

Due to the success of ZZAP!, some mags decided to change - For example Your Commodore turned into YC and injected a lot of 'humour' (except it wasn't particularly funny) and got rid of the listings.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 8:29 pm 
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Techno Teaboy

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LeeT wrote:
Until the birth of ZZAP!, a lot of the British computer mags were very serious, going on about word processing, publishing pages and pages of program listings (that never seemed to work) and generally being quite boring.


That's generally what the US mags were like, yes (Compute, Run, Ahoy), where a lot of coverage would be focused on type-in programs, learning to program your own stuff, doing productivity tasks, understanding CP/M, and the like. I don't think there was anything wrong with that, although it certainly would have been nice to have a ZZap-like alternative, yes.

(Honestly, I'm not sure that Americans missed out too much not having every Mastertronic release reviewed in great detail. :) )

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 10:04 pm 
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jcompton wrote:
. was surprised to see that the type-in programs didn't appear to have any sort of checksumming to them (a trick all the US mags picked up on very early and DID, in fact, make entering those damn programs sometimes sort of vaguely bearable)...


Your Commodore did use these checksums after a while, maybe around 1987? I didn't understand as a kid what the hell they were though and wondered why every line I typed in gave an error!! :-D


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 10:26 pm 
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As an early C64 owner (well before Zzap) I got COmmodore User regularly. I enjoyed it although didn't really understand it being a wee strap of a lad then. Sadly, they went the same way as most of my Zzap up to the great recycler in the Sky and I am hugely grateful for Mort for bringing them back to me in a digital fashion.

Most fun was remembering some of the giveaways - those listing mags for example - and the terrible typesetting in the mag, all the mistakes etc missing out titles for reviews

Did anyone understand how the Screen Star rating worked? Some games got one for getting 7/10 and others 9/10 and didn't get one!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2005 12:16 am 
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savva0122 wrote:
Did anyone understand how the Screen Star rating worked? Some games got one for getting 7/10 and others 9/10 and didn't get one!


Maybe Mark Patterson (ex-CU staffer) can answer that - he was around last week?

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2005 1:45 am 
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savva0122 wrote:
Did anyone understand how the Screen Star rating worked? Some games got one for getting 7/10 and others 9/10 and didn't get one!


Early on, it appeared to be entirely arbitrary: a game that was a gem (regardless of score) got one. Later on, this changed—IIRC, games attaining a score of 85-94% got a "screen star" and 95%+ got a "superstar" (or something like that).

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2005 4:17 pm 
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There are also some issues where there would have been no Screen Star, so the "best" game that month was given it regardless of the score.


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